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How to Clean Cartomizers by Boiling Them

Cartomizers, or e-cigarette cartridges as some people still call them, are pretty cheap. In fact, one of the most selling points of most e-cig companies is that a single cartomizer is cheaper than a pack of analogs and lasts twice as long. Still, despite being advertised as disposable products, some people choose to clean and reuse their cartos.

Vaping forums are full of threads on whether cartomizers should be used more than once, and the community seems to be split in two on the subjects. Some vapers feel they are so cheap and easy to come by that it’s just not worth the time and effort to try and clean them, while others have trouble simply throwing away something that still works great, just because getting new ones is so easy. I myself do clean my cartomizers once, after which I throw them away, but it is indeed a time-consuming process, so I can understand while not everybody is willing to do it.

The vaping community has come up with a few ways of cleaning cartomizers, from simply letting tap water flow through them for a few minutes, to blowing hot water through them with a syringe and even boiling and drying them in the oven. There’s really no best way to go about this, it’s really a matter of what works for you. I personally prefer boiling my cartomizers. It really takes it’s toll on the paper wrapping, and you have to repeat the process at least once, but I noticed it’s the best way to get rid of that nasty gunk that builds up on the atomizer. I read using strong alcohol also does the trick, but I have yet to try that method.

Ok, so on to boiling the cartomizers. First thing I do is gather all my empty still-usable cartridges. Always remember, if you’ve already burned the filling of a cartomizer, cleaning it won’t help one bit. You’re never going to get rid of that burnt taste, so don’t even waste your time on those, just toss them in the trash. After I’ve scoured my room for all the used cartos I can find, it’s time for phase two – removing the plastic/rubber caps. You don’t want to boil your cartridges with these caps still on, or you’ll ruin them. Some cartomizers also have a rubber ring covering the polyfill, you’ll want to remove those as well. Once you’re done, head over to the kitchen.

Next thing you want to do is find a pot (preferably one that you don’t use for cooking), fill it with water, dump all your cartomizers in, and place it on the stove. Make sure you open a window before the water starts to boil. If you have a lot of cartridges that were filled with different flavors, once that gunk starts to dissolve, the smell can get pretty bad, and you also don’t want to be inhaling those nicotine vapors. I usually let the cartomizers boil for at least 10 minutes, but other vapers recommend 5 minutes, to avoid damaging the filling and the metal coil. I, myself have never noticed any kind of damage to the cartos, except for the outer plastic foil and paper wrapping coming lose.

Once the 10 minutes are up, I dump all the water in the sink and rinse the cartomizers with cold water, for about 2 minutes. Then I put them back in the pot, fill up with water and boil them for another 10 minutes. If you can still sense some funny odors after the second boil, you can try boiling a third time, although that’s pushing it a little bit. Two cycles have always been enough for me, but I’ve read a lot of reports about “funny tastes” from cleaned cartomizers, so there’s really no guarantee you’re cartos will be as good as new after this.

After you’ve boiled them a second time, it’s time to rinse the cartos again, with clean water. As you can imagine, the inner filling is now soaked, and it would probably take forever for it to dry naturally. So to speed up the process, I try to eliminate as much as the excess water as possible, by blowing air through the battery end of the cartomizer. If you have dozens of cartomizers, blowing vigorously through each one can make you dizzy, so you can use something else, like a syringe or a baby nose sucker to flush the water out. After I’ve gone through all my cartomizers I set them upside-down on paper napkins, for a few minutes, and let gravity work its magic.

Some people will let the cartomizers sit for 12 hours before using them, but in my experience that’s not enough. There’s still going to be water in the filling and you’re not going to get a very satisfying vape. Letting them sit for a longer period is an even worse idea, as mold can start to form inside the cartomizers, which can really cause serious damage to your lungs if inhaled. To make sure they’re perfectly dry, I put mine in the stove for about an hour, at low temperature. After they’ve cooled off they’re ready to be used.

Cleaning cartomizers is not for everyone, regardless of the method used. I get a satisfying vape using cleaned cartos, but not everyone feels the same way. If you don’t like the tought of throwing away working cartomizers, you can give it a go for yourself and see if you’re satisfied with the results.


7 Comments/Reviews

  • Bonnie says:

    Thanks for the review. I also clean my cartos but I use them more than twice. I use them for months. The way I clean them is with Cocacola. I let them soak over night in coke and than rinse them in water and blow them out. I have been using the same cartos for about 6 months now. I am not being cheap honestly I just cant get rid of something until the wheels fall off.

  • TaylerRae says:
    5 stars

    I’ve never tried drying them in the oven, I’ve always been too scared of breaking them all!
    I lost my job recently, so I can’t even afford the $1 for a new carto (especially as it’s silly to pay shipping for only one!) Last time I was unemployed, I boiled mine a few times, and blew the water out REALLY well before setting them out to dry. I may try the oven this time around!
    I feel like an idiot, I was at the beach today and dropped my last good atty in the sand. So I’ve been pulling together all my old cartos to clean and hope I can get some use out of them until I can pull together the cash for new ones!

    Really appreciate the tips!

  • ATroy says:

    I’m only a few months in to vaping and I, too, prefer to get as much use out of things as possible. After watching dozens of YouTube videos on the subject, here’s how I clean mine (supplies found at Walmart). I use a Turkey Injector Syringe with a hose. The hose is a jumbo silicone drinking straw sold in housewares for use in insulated drinking cups. if you can’t find one of those, take a cartomizer with your to the hardware store and you can certainly find a short length of hose that your cart will fit snugly into. slip the hose/straw onto the business end of the syringe…if it doesn’t fit snugly enough just use a cable tie strap to clamp it on. The hose only needs to be about 4 or 5 inches long. Slip the cartomizer about 1/3″ into the other end of the hose top end first with the battery end sticking out. Stick the end into a pot of hot or even boiling water and work the water back and forth through the cartomizer….then force air through the cartomizer with the syringe to get the bulk of water out. If you are doing several cartomizers your water will get dirty so you’ll want to repeat the process once or twice with fresh hot water. As mentioned above, you won’t be abel to get all of the moister out of the cartomizer by blowing or syringe blasting alone. I set my oven on “warm” and lay them on a paper towel on a cookie sheet and leave them in for a couple of hours….the temperature setting of “warm” is usually less than 200 and that should be fine….my paper towel didn’t even turn brown so I know it wasn’t too hot for the cartomizers. Anyway, I don’t even keep up with what flavors I put in my carts but it doesn’t matter because cleaning this way there is no residual taste left over.

    • Linda says:

      Basters, hoses etc., etc.,I just want to vape. This sounds more like an overhaul to me!!! Sorry, but I’m lazy.

  • Debbie Twins says:

    I wish A Troy would do a video because I can’t get my head around what this turkey thing looks like or the fastening process. I am a total newbie at this maybe a week and excuse my ignorance but r u cleaning the battery part because they r all colored? I need to learn how to thoroughly clean the thing the flavored liquid goes into. Ive tried and because I am so new I’m curious to find the flavor I like and now I have so many different flavors it tastes gross. Please help

  • scott parton says:

    I find this works really well 4 me their seems to be no problem with my e-cig at all afer doing it so I THINK EVERY 1 should try this method out and their is no bad smell at all
    p.s works just great

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